Report of Executive Director, Growth, Planning & Housing and Director of Place Shaping & Town Planning.
4.1 Barbara Brownlee, Executive Director For Growth, Planning & Housing introduced the report and summarised the business case including justification for the Council’s investment in improving and enhancing the Oxford Street District. She explained that the business case had been based around four options. All options showed very high value for money compared to a do nothing scenario although Option 4 was recommended as the preferred option as it fully delivers the Place Shaping Strategy and secures the maximum benefit for the district.
4.2 Barbara Brownlee advised Cabinet of a non-material typing error in Table 3.1 of the Business Case (Appendix 1 to the report) and in Appendix 2b to the report which set out the Project Summary by Option. The errors related to references to Phase 1 and 1.5 which should have been labelled either Phase 2 or 3. She circulated an updated table.
4.3 Councillor David Harvey was of the view that Option 4 presented the right balance between the Council retaining stewardship of the district whilst delivering all of the projects in the Place Shaping Strategy via a part investment by the private sector.
4.4 Councillor Mitchell stated that Option 4 was ambitious but was the right option for the Council to pursue given its aspirations. He agreed that Option 2 (Oxford Street only) should not be progressed due to the displacement impacts of undertaking the changes to Oxford Street without prior improvement to district streets which would have a detrimental effect on nearby businesses and residents.
4.5 The Leader thanked the Oxford Street project team and finance colleagues for the significant amount of work they had undertaken on the business case. She hoped to see investment partners including the Mayor of London come forward to deliver Option 4.
1. That Cabinet approved the Business Case which demonstrates high value for money and provides a robust justification for the £150m investment by the Council for the Oxford Street District programme.
2. That Cabinet approved spend against the project of c.£21m focussed on the design, surveys and other feasibility related work for the programme, this includes a contingency element.
3. That Cabinet approved Option 4 as the Preferred Option which delivers the Place Shaping Strategy as approved by Council on 25 February 2019 and has an estimated cost of £232m. To deliver this option additional funding will be required from the private sector.
4. That Cabinet approved the development of a Funding Strategy which sets out how the council will work to secure the funding required to deliver Option 4 of c.£82m.
5. That Cabinet delegated future decisions on delivering the Oxford Street District Project to the Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning and the Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Regeneration in consultation with the Oxford Street Steering Group including:
o Approval for projects to enter the delivery phase (individual projects will be grouped into work packages and approved over the course of the programme) and hence approval to spend against budget.
o Acceptance of external funding and to respond to stakeholders.
REASON FOR DECISION
1. The Council’s commitment to the Oxford Street District is to create a long term and ambitious vision for the whole of the district that will strengthen its world-renowned status as a great place to live, work and visit. This strategy will support that ambition and respond to the big challenges that the district faces, including: a rapidly evolving retail environment; a place that can cater to a greater number of people; providing more attractions; and for Oxford Street to be a better neighbour to the wider district, including the residential neighbourhoods. In the wake of strong competition from national and international retail destinations, increased online shopping; increased business rates; and interest rates, retailers and businesses in the district are finding the trading environment very challenging.
2. The business case provides a compelling rationale for the Council to invest in the area to ensure that it retains its status as the nation’s high street, a world-renowned destination for domestic and international visitors, characterised by vibrant and historic neighbourhoods. On 6th March 2019, full Council approved the Capital Strategy including allocation of c.£150 million towards the delivery of the final adopted Place Strategy and Delivery Plan. The programme now needs approval to spend against the budget in order to progress. The Council will take responsibility for delivering an ambitious set of projects that will help to bring about a significant change to counter some of the external factors that the district currently faces. Additional funding to support the delivery of the projects listed in the Place Strategy will be required from other external sources.